We all want healthy small groups. But without a central focus on God and growing in our faith, we are simply a gathering of people who meet for coffee when it’s convenient. Coffee is great but healthy groups practice spiritual habits that form hearts and lives into being disciples of Jesus.
How do we recognize a healthy group when we see one?
Healthy small groups are an intentional gathering of people who agree to share life together, meeting on a regular basis for the purpose of fulfilling God’s mission for the church and for making disciples of Christ. While every church has its own culture, God gave to us some specific guidelines in the Bible to help us grow healthy groups.
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. -Acts 2:42-47 KJV
Koinonia is Key.
Biblical fellowship is more than having cake in the basement of the church. Koinonia, a Greek word which means “fellowship, sharing in common, communion.” The first occurrence of koinonia can be found in the Book of Acts.
Christian fellowship is an important part of the Christian life. Believers in Christ are to come together in love, faith, and encouragement. That is the essence of koinonia.
What are the elements that make up true koinonia that produces healthy small groups?
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine… (Acts 2:42) KJV
The Bible is God’s manual for life. As Christians, many of us know why we should study the Bible but why should we study the Bible in our groups? First and foremost, our groups must have an upward focus. A group that is not focused on God and His word are just a bunch of people getting together for fun. While fun is important, group Bible study offers a safe place to grow, ask questions, and learn. More importantly, studying our Bible in a small group setting also helps us to apply what we learn as we encourage one another in handling life issues. When we are involved in a small group of other believers with varying backgrounds we can come alongside one another teach, encourage, edify, and hold one another accountable.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. –Proverbs 27:17 KJV
Acts 2:42 KJV says the early believers were devoted to …fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Groups are a place where people can find help with their spiritual needs. They are a place where members pray for each other, encourage and edify one another and if one is sick, suffering spiritually, or struggling with sin they can be loved and cared for.
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Ecclesiastes. 4:10 KJV
Hebrews 10:24-25 KJV says: And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
…And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. (Acts 2:47 KJV)
Reaching out to the world around us is a vital part of serving Christ and the mission of the church.
It is of great value for every believer to do something to contribute to the broader ministry and mission of the church. Serving makes for a wonderful marriage between groups and the centralized church. Serving should be practiced on and off campus on a regular basis.
The Bible says that faith without works is dead. Serving those in need is part of what it means to be a Christian. Performing that service together with your small group can be a life-changing experience.
Healthy things grow and healthy groups reproduce.
There may be one or more people in the group with the potential for leadership. Keep in mind the best group leaders are those who have a shepherd’s heart, not necessarily those who are gifted in leadership.
Groups should allow members to explore and practice their spiritual gifts. It not only helps us to discover potential future leaders but it affords members to do something to contribute to the broader ministry and mission of the church.
It is not possible for church staff and pastors to personally minister to everyone. Healthy groups help us to equip one another to bear the burden of ministry.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: -Ephesians 4:11-12 KJV
Healthy small groups are a vibrant community of people who connect with one another to deepen their relationship with God, one another, and carry out the mission of the church
For more information on building healthy, vibrant small groups, here is a link to some Free resources by Steve Gladen on the Small Group Network page.